"Family violence" is a term that includes many different forms of abuse, mistreatment or neglect that adults or children may experience in their intimate, kinship or dependent relationships. There is no single, definitive cause of family violence, and many people – regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, education, cultural identity, socioeconomic status, occupation, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities or personality – may be vulnerable to being abused at any stage of their life. Family violence is a complex problem, in which many different factors (individual, relationship and societal) play a role.
November 25 marks the International Day of no violence in families, as the violence is now becoming a social pest. It often follows other forms of more subtle and long-term abuse: verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual, or financial and closely correlated with alcoholism, drug consumption, intimate-partner homicide, teen pregnancy, infant and child mortality, spontaneous abortion, reckless behaviors, suicide, and the onset of mental health disorders. Young couples in their 20s and 30s, husbands with little education, and hot-tempered persons are more likely to use force as a means to solve family conflicts. Violent husbands offer excuses that range from the wife not doing housework, her frequent visits to her parents’ home, or refusing the husband’s request for sex. Unemployment (being laid off) sparked new conflicts in families: the wife’s economic reliance upon her husband puts her in a subservient position and more apt to allow her to be ill treated; or the husband is also unemployed, intensifying existing family conflicts as the family’s income decreases. The husband loses his pride when he loses the position as the main family supporter. Some would pick a quarrel or find an excuse to beat their wives to make up for their feeling of inadequacy. People get angry more easily when they are short of cash. Most lack the capability of mental adjustment. Unhappy circumstances met outside may influence their mood for a whole day, and when they come home, they seek out their wives to vent their rage. Other causes of family violence include extramarital affairs, bad habits such as gambling and alcohol or drug use on either side. Public image also contributes to family violence.
Most abusers and batterers are males – but a significant minority is women. Most of the victims of family violence in China are women. Some of them get black eyes and swollen face; others have broken bones and internal injuries; a few have even suffered lifelong deformity. But most women, who are embarrassed about violent husbands, never ask for help from the police or legal system. Family violence is mostly spousal – one spouse beating, raping, or otherwise physically harming and torturing the other. But children are also and often victims – either directly, or indirectly. Other vulnerable familial groups include the elderly and the disabled. The child living in a family where there is a lot of beating and attacks can easily develop a stony, unsociable and eccentric personality. Some may even copy the acts of their parents and use force on others. Family violence is also the root of school violence.
Shanghai women have been envied by their counterparts throughout China because Shanghai men are said to make excellent husbands: they share the housework, care for the family and treat their wives well. Perhaps partly because of this presumption, family violence in Shanghai has not received adequate public attention. In Shanghai, one out of every 10 cases of public security concerns family violence. About half of the cases were related to extramarital love affairs. Previously, most family violence was related to economic disputes, but now the "third party" has become the main factor.
At present, mental "cold" violence has gradually become the most serious "hidden killer" between spouses and in families. The proportion of Shanghai’s women applying mental "cold" violence towards their men is quite high. One party frequently refuses to eat, to talk or lock out the other party from their room, creating a deep sense of inner guilt for the other. All these are forms of mental violence and "cold" violence is usually the major reason for family breakup. The reason is that the bodily violence is easily detectable when developed to a certain extent whereas the mental "cold" violence is somewhat in the dark and so it gradually comes to take the place of the bodily one.
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